May 28, 2002

Mirah "Advisory Committee"

Talk about a growth spurt! Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, Russian-born lo-fi pop folkie, has outgrown the naive charm, heartbroken innocence and whip-smart allusions of her 2000 debut, You Think It's Like This, But Really It's Like This. While that debut was charming and lovely, Mirah's voice seemed to be mixed with the Microphones' Phil Elvrum's own ideas, leaving one to wonder what Mirah would sound like with songs that sounded truely her own.

What's nice is that she's really matured as a singer/songwriter. Just one listen to the epic opener "Cold Cold Water" tells you that her hints of greatness were simply that--hints. Nothing could have prepared me for the epic balladry of this, merely her second full-length album. Unlike her previous album, she's not simply being coy about her feelings anymore--she's straightforward, in your face, and totally unapologetic about it as well. She's got her story to tell, and proves that you don't have to be loud to be powerful or controversial.

What was good about You Think It's Like This... is multiplied threefold. If anything, she's become a master of contradiction. Sure, her little girl-voice is still there, but unlike her previous work, she's a bit more refined and not as twee. There's more interesting instrumentation on Advisory Committee as well; mixing up her songs with little noises and blips and little sonic goodies. These things were charmingly awkward earlier, but now they're breathtakingly subtle, and in so doing, are louded here than ever before. Advisory Committee is also a longer, more complex album than You Think It's Like This.. yet it's about 20 minutes shorter.

Aside from that, all I can say is that this is a fun record. I hate to simply waste review space on a record that ultimatly ends with "the best thing to do is go out and buy this record," but it's really the case with Advisory Committee. This is such a pleasant listening experience that's not too sad or happy or moody or anything that makes records dull after a few listens. It's folk, rock, pop, all of the above, and none of the above. I really enjoyed listening to Advisory Committee on my diskman. It's really a headphones record--with little nuances and odd sounds that really need to be appreciated with such an intimate method of listening. You'll also appreciate it when "Recommendation" and "The Garden" come on, as you'll surely be dancing around the bedroom. I know I was.

Mirah...kudos to you! You've made me a very happy music listener, and I just have to thank you for that. Your records have kicked a certain Righteous Babe's work, and I'm honestly looking forward to your next record.

--Joseph Kyle

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